LARAMIE -- The Wyoming wrestling team finally gets to play host this weekend as the Cowboys open their 2020 home schedule with a pair of duals as they welcome CSU Bakersfield at 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24 in Laramie and Utah Valley at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26 in Green River.

“It’s really exciting to be at home, but at the same time, we have several guys that haven’t done it,” said Head Coach Mark Branch.

“So there are some things that you have to look out for. I think the guys will be excited to be in front of a home crowd, so you have to make sure that they’ll stay focused and calm and keep their mind on what they need to do when their match starts.”

The Pokes are coming off a road Big 12 split two weekends ago in The Dakotas as they rolled past North Dakota State, 34-6 and had their comeback bid against South Dakota State, come up just short, losing 17-16.

UW won 8-of-10 matches against the Bison, including racking up four bonus-point victories, two of which came via fall. Sixth-ranked Montorie Bridges picked up a top-25 showdown win against then-12th-ranked Cam Sykora, 6-4 while Hayden Hastings at 174 pounds and Brian Andrews at heavyweight, earned the two pins for the Pokes. Andrews’ fall came against No. 25 Brandon Metz in the first minute of the match. At 184, Tate Samuelson got a 10-1 major decision win over Noah Cressell.

In this week’s rankings, Bridges continues to be the highest-ranked Cowboy, coming in at No. 6 in both the TrackWrestling and OpenMat polls at 133 pounds. At 149, Jaron Jensen remains at No. 20 in the TrackWrestling poll while Hastings is 10th at 174 pounds by Track. Andrews jumped up one spot to No. 18 at heavyweight by OpenMat. Three other Pokes are just outside the top-25 in respective polls as Dewey Krueger at 157, is 32nd by OpenMat, Samuelson is 29th by OpenMat and Stephen Buchanan at 197, comes in at No. 27 in both the TrackWrestling and OpenMat polls.

Last season, the Pokes had a historic run at home, going 8-1 in Laramie, including going 3-0 at the Cowboy Shootout and a perfect 4-0 in Big 12 duals. The eight wins were tied for the second-most home victories in program history, trailing only the 1963-64 squad that won nine matches in Laramie.

“As much as there are so many positives to being home, we just haven’t experienced it yet this season and some guys haven’t experienced it yet in their careers,” said Branch.

“There’s definitely things you want to pay attention to, but make it a very positive experience for the guys. It’s been a long season on the road and we need to take advantage of all the positives that come with competing at home. It’s exciting and I know the guys are looking forward to it. I’m really hoping that our fans pack the UniWyo and that we have a full house. We need our fans this weekend. Our fans are really going to motivate us and push us. This is an important time of the year where we do have some good things going in our favor, with our team chemistry. That extra boost that we can get from competing here at home and in Green River, it’s something that can help us competitively. It’s pretty exciting to have that in front of us.”

Fans can follow this weekend’s action live via web stream on FloWrestling.com and live scoring updates at TrackWrestling.com or by going to gowyo.com/coverage. Live updates will also be available on Twitter at @WyoWrestle.

University of Wyoming press release